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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

An Inescapable Chain of Events

Oedipus Rex
Were you ever envious of anyone when you were young? Who? Why? What is your attitude when you see nasty people get what they deserve? What should it be? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1201).

Envy and admiration are very different emotions. When we admire someone we like them very much and wish them well. When we envy someone we tend to dislike them and at a certain level wish them ill – wishing to see them meet with their comeuppance and enjoying it when we hear that they have been bereft of their advantages.

When we see people we envy lose, our thinly cloaked elation shares much in common with the attitude we have when we see nasty people get what they deserve – we exalt in their misfortune.

The Christian seeks to find what is in the best interest of others. The vehicle for the exercise of this attitude derives from empathy. Thus, even when we find that the misfortune of others is in some sense just, we nevertheless temper our satisfaction with the knowledge of the pain that is concurrent with losing. We can share short-term grief with the loser even though we acknowledge the likelihood of long-term benefits. That is, we recognize that the victim was guided in their actions by their best lights. We feel sorrow when these best lights prove fundamentally misguided and delusional. Such passages are sad states in human experience and something to which we are all vulnerable.

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